The London Project to Cure Blindness: Does Regenerative Medicine Work?

Wet macular degeneration is a chronic eye disorder that causes progressive vision loss due to the degeneration of cells in the macula of the eye and it is generally caused by abnormal blood vessels that leak fluid or blood into the macula. Dr Coffey and his collaborators from the London Project to Cure Blindness found a way to surgically implant an ultra-thin patch containing an engineered biopolymer with stem cell-derived retinal pigment epithelium cells which integrates into the eye and replaces deteriorated cells, restoring eyesight. Two patients received the treatment so far and both have experienced marked vision improvement. This breakthrough has demonstrated the potential for regenerative medicine to restore function and help patients return to normal life and the many ways in which stem cell research is already on its way to helping patients.

About our speaker

Pete Coffey

Director of the London Project to Cure Blindness, UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, London, United Kingdom

Professor Pete Coffey received his PhD at Oxford University and was a member of the faculty at Oxford and later the University of Sheffield as Lecturer and Senior Lecturer. He was formerly Professor and Head of Ocular Biology and Therapeutics at University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology, where he also served as Chair of Cellular Therapies and Visual Science. He currently serves as the Lead of Development, Ageing and Disease research at University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology and as the Co-Executive Director of Translation at University of California Santa Barbara’s Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering.

His achievements include founding the London Project to Cure Blindness, which aims to develop a stem cell therapy for the majority of all types of age-related macular degeneration. Dr Coffey has received many honours and awards, including the prestigious Estelle Doheny Living Tribute Award, Retinitis Pigmentosa International’s Vision Award, the CIRM Leadership Award and the New York Stem Cell Foundation Robertson Prize.

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